Since its founding in 1887, curators and librarians at the Newberry have consistently collected in depth on the rhetorical tradition that, by the late nineteenth century, was considered central to the intellectual history of Europe and the Americas. With roots in the educational program we now call humanism, most modern rhetoric depends on classical models rediscovered and reinvigorated during the Renaissance. The Newberry has a systematic collection of major and influential works in fields related to humanism, including especially classical literatures and languages; educational theory and practice; textbooks for teaching grammar, rhetoric, oratory, and composition; literary criticism; moral philosophy; linguistics and the history of languages.
The Newberry’s collections in these general humanistic and rhetorical fields are well complemented by particular strengths in certain genres: emblem books, handwriting books, and books of military architecture and music theory. Other related collections concern Religion (rich in sermons and devotional literature, biblical scholarship, and missionary school materials); the History of the Book (calligraphy, typography, book design, school books, censorship); and Maps, Travel and Exploration.